Tuesday, April 18, 2017 12:52 PM
There are seven billion people on the planet—and that’s a large number of people. If every one of them used the same amount of resources and energy as the average American, the Earth would ignite like a matchhead, leaving a gray, smoking waste where once we had green, lush bounty. I don’t say this to bedevil my countrymen—I’m just stating a fact.
Neither do I believe we are guilty as people for living as we do. The evil logic of Capitalism creates the over-abundance of pollution and waste, as much as our lifestyles do. In many cases, as in the use of a personal, gas-powered vehicle, the choice of whether to use one is made a matter of ‘can one afford to?’ rather than ‘should one use a car, at all?’ And it isn’t the citizenry that decides how much public transportation is available—it is wealthy capitalists who determine what industries are most profitable—and the health and safety of people does not enter into that formula.
On the one hand we have politics and government, which we all debate with enthusiasm. On the other hand we have the obvious—that each of us wants to live his or her own life without restraint. Simply put, we don’t want the government interfering in our lives—just in everyone else’s.
Government governs best which governs least—except for my next-door neighbor, who needs a lot of governing, right? But government can’t manage the welfare of the citizenry without some control over the citizenry. We try to make that okay by providing the citizens with control of their government, through democracy, but in the end that government must impose rules upon us, whether those rules were democratically arrived at or not.
So, ideally, we want rules that will constrain everyone’s behavior, but which we ourselves find little or no burden. For many people, the criminalization of pot carries no onus, because they don’t smoke pot. For those who do, the criminality of it is an outrage. For those earning minimum wage, income taxes are no great burden—a little bit less than too little is no big deal. For those who must pay millions, taxes seem truly hurtful.
Politics, as we have lately seen, is a far cry from government. Politics used to be an arena for those who felt they knew, better than the main run of folks, how to govern—but politics has devolved into a kind of industry, where motives (if there are any, beyond money or power) are no longer ideals. There are exceptional politicians, still—but their tiny numbers make them less than the main thrust of political discourse—and they are often ridiculed by the ‘stuffed-shirts brigade’ for trying to do something unusual—as if the ‘usual’ had some sanctity to it.
Plus, politicians have surrendered themselves to the moneyed interests as the natural course of things—where, in the past, their reluctance to bow to pressure was their only difference from the businesspeople they now submit to, as if business had the rights instead of people. If they must be so craven, they should just scrap the whole wasteful circus and let the businesspeople run things for themselves. That’s not a bad idea—let business deal with the problems of humanity for a while and maybe they’ll realize that neglecting people is, in the long run, as bad for business as it is for the people.
But let’s be real—people are so stupid they’d burn this country to the ground, if only they can keep making a fast buck. The few sensible people among the crowd talk too softly to be heard over the shouting of the self-important. We haven’t lived like the other animals for a long, long time—yet we still think and act like them. We have the ability to coordinate the entire human race into one, united family—but that is the last thing anyone in power wants to do. They tell us to focus on the ‘economy’, meaning the shell-game that they are currently winning, rather than any bigger picture that involves a higher form of civilization.
I see us all too clearly—and I’ll tell you true: if we destroy ourselves, it will be no great loss. If we can’t do any better than we are right now, the entire Earth and everything that lives on it (or what’s left of it) will be better off without humanity’s thoughtless abuse. And why are we all working so hard—seven billion sweating and striving so that seven hundred or so can enjoy the fabulous wealth and power that humanity is capable of?
All you hard workers out there—start taking long lunches—let the assholes figure out where the toner is for once. And stop watching the news until they rediscover journalism—or at least until they start ignoring Trump. Trump may be president, but still, we are all stupider every time he speaks. And that is only slightly less true for every Republican politician and spokesperson. Let’s face it—they are not another side of things—they are the wrong side of things—else why would they have to hack the system with Wikileaks and Citizen’s United, etc.? They do not express a different side of the truth—they seek to obscure the truth—and that’s not acceptable. Not to me. Only to a media that thrives on confusion and sensation and distraction.
I don’t want to bring down clownish assholes like Trump and the rest of the GOP—I want to incite a rising up of the people who’ve given too much and gotten too little in return. I want people to stand up on their hindlegs and start barking back at these slimy crooks—bring enough light into our society that the flimsy facades of these bastards become as transparent as onion skin. Then we won’t have to topple Trump and his ilk—they’ll crawl back into the holes they came from, their putrid skin burnt by the sunlight of reason, justice, and tolerance.
Monday, April 17, 2017 3:20 PM
Jerks Of a Feather (2017Apr17)
Like calls to like—Trump is more interested in Kim Jong Un than in anyone in our country. That’s because both leaders are far more concerned with their egos than with the welfare of their citizens. Un inherited poor citizens and Trump grabbed up the rich citizens—and even the world’s largest ocean won’t keep them from standing toe-to-toe, puffing out their chests though the rest of the world holds its breath against the possibility of nuclear winter.
Trump’s got it easier—all he has to distract us from is his treasonous campaign, his ignorance, his incompetence, his taxes, and his nepotism. Un has to actually distract his people from their starvation in a country with no electricity or telephones—a much heavier lift. But give Trump his full four years and who knows? The two countries may end up looking much the same.
Retail stores are hurting from the rise of Amazon, etc., and the cheapness and convenience of the Post Office, UPS, and FedEx. The USPS may not be carrying any first-class letters anymore, with the internet and email rendering them obsolete, but the package biz is booming—our local postal worker complains about the packages that clog up his office when we don’t pick up our mail every day. And with their price-point (and certain grandfathered-in legal restrictions) the post office maintains a strong advantage over third-party delivery services, like UPS.
The fact that many entry-level jobs at retail stores are disappearing, as site-specific shopping disappears, would be no great loss, as careers—but many of those jobs were taken by young people—who were already hard-pressed to find employment, or work experience of any kind. Technology always subtracts jobs from the economy—tech-positive types will assure us that they create new jobs while they destroy the old ones, but let’s take this retail business as a case study.
Floorwalkers and clerks were once needed for every shop in the mall—will there be an equal demand for UPS and FedEx drivers? And will that experience prepare young employees for future jobs as well as working in a retail store? I don’t think so. I think it’s time Silicon Valley started designing apps that use people instead of code—create jobs, not programs. Otherwise we’re headed for a fully-automated society with zero employment.
That would be doable, in a somewhat socialist society—but in pure capitalism, unemployment means poverty, period. So we can either start progressing backwards—or embrace socialism. Yes, it’s ironic that capitalism created the situation, our present race towards human joblessness—and for profit, no less. But that doesn’t change the facts: that a capitalist society requires consumers, and consumers can’t pay without jobs. It’s also ironic that business owners are even more vulnerable than workers, in that any business, nowadays, can disappear overnight—and losing a business is a much greater fall than merely losing a job.
Sunday, April 16, 2017 3:00 PM
Happy Easter (2017Apr16)
Pick your preference—the solemnity of a holy day, or an Easter egg hunt and a fight over the Cadbury egg. I prefer combining the two and watching Turner Classics’ day-long re-airing of the Hollywood treatments of the Christ—kinda like Eddy Haskell reading the New Testament to June Cleaver.
As a boy, in Catholic Church every Sunday, I would look at the bas-reliefs on the walls of the church—the Stations of the Cross were depicted in small, white-marble tableaux and spaced along the walls on both sides. I was fascinated by the way everyone had a different way of sticking their tongue out to receive the sacrament—it was cognitive dissonance to walk up to the priest and stick out your tongue, but you had to do it.
I never liked Easter egg hunts—they were competitive, but you weren’t supposed to be greedy—very strange, conflicting messages. You were supposed to find as many as you could, but you shouldn’t find them all, because then the littler kids would be left out. Stupid game. We did it for our kids, but we put their eggs on opposite sides of the yard so they each had a search area and could take their time.
I don’t like Easter—it’s like Christmas without the fun and presents. And way too many hard-boiled eggs were involved—which meant deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches and just plain hard-boiled eggs, with salt, for a snack—for days afterward—yuck. And I hate mint jelly, which only appeared at Easter dinner.
I think Americans like Jesus because he dissociated faith from the state, just like our founders dissociated the state from the monarchy. And it’s a grand story—death and resurrection, freedom from the pains of this world—I’d buy it—who wouldn’t. But faith is like quitting smoking—it sounds a lot better than it is—especially when you’re down in the dumps.
So happy Easter, everyone—and enjoy the movies.